On Sunday 6 August, Earthwatch volunteers on the Dolphins of the Ionian Sea expedition participated in the Dolphin Day Celebration organised by researchers of the Tethys Research Institute in the village of Paleros, Greece. Apart from helping us survey the waters of the Amvrakikos Gulf and record very valuable data during their stay, the volunteers were extremely enthusiastic and keen to give us a hand with 'body painting', with locals queuing up to have dolphins painted on arms, shoulders and bellies.
This was extremely popular among the children, around 30 of which crowded around waiting and watching as Tethys staff and Earthwatch volunteers painted industriously trying to keep up with the demand. By 8.45pm the arrival of spectators slowed down and the projection began, with an audience of about 150, 40 of which were children. Two videos were shown to launch the evening, including Coastal Dolphins, showing images and footage of local and Mediterranean dolphins, with some basic translation.
The main presentation came next, describing the situation in the area and encouraging the people of Paleros to take action to prevent further degradation of the local marine habitat. A verbally translated projection of the video Dolphin People followed, telling a story of dedication and personal experience of people working with the Ionian dolphins.
Since the participation of Earthwatch volunteers on the day was such a success, we will involve volunteers as much as possible in future public awareness and educational campaigns. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Earthwatch staff and all the volunteers who have participated in this expedition or will do so in the future - without their enthusiasm and interest our work would not be possible.
©Joan Gonzalvo Villegas
Tethys Research Institute/University of Barcelona